2014 Living Legend of Alexandria Converse “Connie” West
If the City ever establishes an official position of Alexandria Amanuensis, Living Legends nominee Converse “Connie” West would be a shooin for the job. He has documented and continues to record officially the business of numerous Alexandria organizations as their secretary. Currently, he is secretary of Agenda:Alexandria, the Holmes Run Park Committee (which he has also chaired), and the Alexandria Federation of Civic Associations.
But West’s contributions go well beyond serving as secretary. He was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts and raised in Northern New Jersey, where his father was an accountant and his mom the town librarian which may have contributed the genes that make him such an accurate and conscientious secretary. After graduating from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, he tried a year of law school and then joined the U.S. Army during which he served a tour in Korea. Eventually, West moved to the Washington area where he pursued a 30year career in insurance.
The now retired life insurance underwriter moved to Alexandria in 1976 and has been active in numerous City organizations since his earliest days here. One of his first and longest connections with the City has been as a volunteer with the Police Department. He began by answering telephone calls and taking routine reports, freeing officers from these desk duties. He eventually successfully completed certification courses offered at the Police Academy and regularly gave eight hours a week, logging over 5,200 volunteer hours of service, the equivalent of nearly three fulltime years. Now, at age 82, following 20 years as a volunteer, he has accepted a paid job and is working 20 hours a week in the Information Services Section of the Records Department at Police Headquarters.
West served on the Alexandria Traffic and Parking Board and the Alexandria Transportation Safety Commission from 1986 through 2010 including a term as chair of the former. From 1993 to 1996, he chaired the Alexandria Crime Prevention Council and from 1992 until 2011, West was a member of the Regional Council of the Alexandria United Way. He currently serves as a member of the Alexandria Emergency Medical Services Council (beginning in 2009) and the board of directors of Hallmark Condominium which he rejoined in 2010 having been a member earlier from 1980 until 1986 which included a year as President. He has been an election official at most elections.
West was nominated by Roberta “Bobbie” O’Brien who wrote, “Connie has fulfilled all the volunteer roles that he has taken on with integrity and competence. He has done so with the steadiness and calm for which he has become so well known….Connie continues to serve with enthusiasm on four civic commissions and boards but he has also been in the trenches and no job that needs to be done has been too small for him.”
West slowed down for two years which he spent caring for his wife Nedja prior to her death in 2006. From Nedja, Connie inherited two adult stepsons who live with their families (including two stepgrandsons) in this area.